Ron DeSantis Archives - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham, Ron DeSantis get biggest public financing checks

Eight statewide candidates, including four gubernatorial candidates, combined to draw $182,348 in state matching funds on Friday.

The program has now been used by statewide candidates to draw $4.7 million in public funding, nearly $300,000 more than candidates received during the entire 2014 election cycle, according to numbers posted online by the Florida Division of Elections.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, one of five Democrats running for Governor, received the largest check on Friday, worth $56,028. She has now received $1.185 million from the program, which provides matches for each contribution from an individual donor that totals $250 or less.

The checks on Friday covered the period of Aug. 4 to Aug. 10.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, had the second largest check on Friday, totaling $34,305, and has now received $920,726 from the state.

DeSantis’ primary opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, received $13,694 on Friday. Putnam has received nearly $1.04 million from the program.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for Governor, got a check Friday for $29,412 to bring his campaign matching-fund assistance to $465,688.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who is the only candidate for agriculture commissioner involved in the program, picked up $2,565 on Friday and has now received $258,320 from the state.

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, a Republican running for Attorney General, picked up $16,105 on Friday and has received $335.313 from the program.

In the Democratic race for Attorney General, Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa received $23,696 in state dollars on Friday to bring his matching fund money to $196,459. Shaw’s primary opponent, Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County who received his first check from the program a week earlier, didn’t qualify for any money on Friday.

Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doesn’t have a primary opponent and will face Democrat Jeremy Ring in the November general election, received $6,545 in matching funds Friday. Patronis has now received $295,965 from the state.

Bill Nelson, Adam Putnam top Orlando’s Political Salsa

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam were the top choices at Orlando’s Political Salsa hobnob for races for Senate and Florida Governor.

With more than 400 votes, Nelson topped Republican Gov. Rick Scott 52 percent to 43 percent with Rocky De La Fuente taking the rest during the Hispanic-oriented but mostly mixed-ethnic event Thursday night.  Organizers released results over the weekend.

Putnam won a tight contest over Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the 16-person straw poll for Governor, with Putnam grabbing 25 percent of the votes and Gillum 23. Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis finished third with 15 percent; Democratic former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, 13 percent; Democratic former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, 11 percent; Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King took five percent; and four points for Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene.

In a separate poll taken at Political Salsa held at Acacia, a community center for Central Florida’s Puerto Rican community,  77 percent of the participants said they support Puerto Rico statehood. Only 15 percent chose the option of independence, and 8 percent said none of the above.

Unlike many hobnob straw polls, the Political Salsa straw poll evenly divided favorites between Republicans and Democrats, offering a possible Democratic lean with several upsets.

The primary sponsors of the event were the Suarez Group of Companies and the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida.

Republican former Judge Ashley Moody was the pick for Attorney General, with 39 percent, compared to 27 percent for Democratic state Sen. Sean Shaw, 22 percent for Democrat Ryan Torrens, and 12 percent for Republican state Rep. Frank White.

In the race for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Democratic former state Sen. Jeremy Ring topped Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis 51 to 49 percent.

Democrat Nikki Fried was the top choice for Agriculture Commissioner, taking 30 percent, compared with 19 for Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell, 18 for Democrat Roy David Walker, and 17 for state Sen. Denise Grimsley, among the leaders.

In congressional races, three Democratic incumbents came out on top and one Democratic challenger took a surprise victory.

Democrat Sanjay Patel outpolled Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey 53 to 47 percent in Florida’s 8th Congressional District, which is Brevard County-centered with a piece of eastern Orange County.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy barely topped Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, covering Seminole and north and central Orange counties. Murphy polled 35, Miller 33. The other three candidates, two Republicans and a Democrat, drew totals in the low teens.

In Florida’s 9th Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto not only came out on top but his Democratic primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson finished a distant third. Soto got 51, Republican Wayne Liebnitzky 34, and Grayson 15 points in that district covering Osceola, south Orange and eastern Polk counties.

In Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which covers west Orange County, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has only an upstart Democratic challenger standing between her and re-election. And that was relatively close in this poll: Demings 61 percent, Wade Darius, 39 percent.

Several surprises came in Florida House races.

Democrat Lee Mangold topped Republican David Smith 53 to 47 percent in House District 28.

Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon came out on top in House District 29, taking 44 to 40 percent for Democrat Tracey Kagan; Democrat Darryl Block took 16 points.

Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes topped House District 30, taking 49 to 22 percent against Democrat Brendan Ramirez; 20 percent went to Clark Anderson and 9 points for Joy Goff-Marcil.

Democrat Debra Kaplan led Republican state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, 58 to 42 percent in House District 31.

Democrat Ricky Shirah was the choice in House District 39, topping Republican Josie Tomkow 54-39 percent.

Democrat Barbara Cady topped Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa 54 to 46 in House District 42.

Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski topped House District 44. He drew 38, to 33 for Democratic former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson and 29 for Melanie Gold.

Democrat Anna Eskamani edged out a Republican rival the House District 47 contest with 47 percent; 42 percent went for Republican Mikaela Nix and 11 percent for Republican Stockton Reeves.

Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith got 56 percent to Republican Ben Griffin‘s 44 in House District 49.

Democrat Pam Dirschka led the House District 50 contest with 45 percent, while Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia took 40 percent, and Republican George Collins, 15 points.

Republican Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke led in the contest for Orange County Mayor. Clarke grabbed 41 percent, to 35 percent for Sheriff Jerry Demings and 24 percent for businessman Rob Panepinto.

Retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Joe Lopez pulled off a shockingly easy upset in the contest for Orange County Sheriff, topping Orlando Police Chief John Mina 51 to 28, with Democrat Darryl Sheppard finishing third with 21.

In Orange County Commission races, Republican Christina Moore was the top choice in a four-person field for District 2, leading Republican Mark Byrd 35 to 28 percent; Democrat Eric Rollings was the pick in the five-person field for District 3, leading Pete Crotty 36 to 22 percent; Gina Perez-Calhoun and Maribel Gomez Cordero were the top choices in the five-person District 4 race.

For the Seminole County Commission, Katrina Shadix was the choice in District 2, and Amy Lockhart in District 4, with both polling more than 50 percent.

For the Osceola County Commission, Wanda Rentas got 44 percent in District 2, while incumbent Commissioner Viviana Janer took 25 and Janette Martinez 24. Adam Michelin led a tight race for District 4, taking 32 percent versus 26 percent for incumbent Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, Will Fonseca taking 24, and Will Gonzalez Jr., 18 points.

Joel Greenberg draws anger after Islamophobic Facebook post

Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg faced calls for his resignation from Muslim leaders after publishing a Facebook post many consider Islamophobic.

Greenberg on Saturday posted: “One Simple question … Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend..”

The post cannot be publicly viewed now, but WFTV took a screenshot.

On Monday Democrats from neighboring Orange County called for Greenberg to resign.

After the post started receiving attention, Greenberg said the question had been posed to him, and he was sharing the message online. He defended the decision to WFTV.

“What’s not appropriate about engaging in discussion on different subjects when it has to do with immigration, or when it has to do with religion?” he said. “No, I don’t see why this would be an inappropriate discussion to have coming from a third party. I didn’t have the answers to it, so I reposted it.”

Plenty, argued Democrats, who first asserted that Muslims have contributed a lot, including major advances in optics, surgical tools, algebra, and even coffee.

“The normalization of intolerance and hate has reached a level not seen in decades. America MUST do better. If we do not stand up and speak out, then we are complicit in its acceptance. America stands for hope and opportunity, and we promise to fight and defend those ideas and values whenever someone like Joel Greenberg tries to attack them.” Orange County Democratic Party Chair Wes Hodge stated in a letter that called for Greenberg to resign.

Democratic House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani, the daughter of Iranian-American immigrants, said she has felt Islamaphobia firsthand and condemned what she said was Greenberg’s “efforts to target and isolate a marginalized community.”

“Honestly, my first reaction was, ‘Who is Joel Greenberg and why is he saying these hateful and bigoted things?’ Once I remembered he was an elected official representing an entire county, I felt compelled to spread the word, and hold him accountable,” Eskamani stated.

The post appears to be a verbatim quote from conservative pundit Neal Boortz, who made the remark on Twitter as he shared a story from Jihad Watch, a site the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as anti-Muslim propaganda.

Greenberg later posted the same Jihad Watch story as a response to criticism of his post.

In the Central Florida area, Muslim and Democratic leaders said Greenberg needed to publicly apologize for the remarks or resign his elected office.

Rasha Mubarak, a Palestinian Muslim American activist and president of the Young Democrats of Orange County, was among the first saying Greenberg should step aside.

“This feeds into the anti-Muslim rhetoric that not only is dangerous for the Muslim community, misperceived Muslim Community, people of color, moreover for our entire Central Florida community,” she told Orlando Weekly.

“It’s divisive and hazardous — there is no room for any kind of discrimination in office. Joel Greenberg needs to resign if he fails to release a public apology.”

She’s been tweeting #JoelmustGo in the wake of the original post.

And now, politicians connected to Greenberg have faced their own calls to condemn the language. The Florida Democratic Party on Sunday called on Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis to return more than $3,000 in donations from Greenberg, one of DeSantis’ most vocal supporters, and to denounce the “bigoted and divisive rhetoric.”

“For too long, Ron DeSantis has associated himself with some of the most toxic figures on the far right,” said FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe, “and this is just the latest example of DeSantis receiving the backing of noted Islamophobes.”

As for Greenberg himself, he suggested on Facebook Saturday evening the whole episode shows intolerance of the left.

“Ah the religion of peace and the party of tolerance,” he posted Saturday. “Until they disagree with you. Hypocrites. All of them. Vote Republican.”

Statewide candidates will converge at South Florida rallies today

South Florida’s the place to be for candidates running for statewide office today. As politicians rally voters to early voting locations, where can you meet with candidates for Governor or Senate? And where will candidates’ paths converge?

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene will campaign heavily today in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. After attending a service at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church with Bishop W. Oshea Granger in the morning, he will speak to the Kings Point Democratic Club at Flanders Club House in Delray Beach at 10 a.m.

Democratic candidate Philip Levine will also be at the Kings Point meeting. Levine also plans to ride with hip-hop legend Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell to early voting at the North Dade Regional Library at 9 a.m., where Greene will campaign at noon.

A Red For Education Teacher Rally hosted by state Reps. Shevrin Jones and Nicholas Duran at the Betty T. Ferguson Community Center in Miami Gardens will also draw candidates. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will speak at the rally at noon, and all five major Democratic candidates for governor are expected to attend as well, including Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, Chris King, Greene and Levine.

Levine then heads to an early voting rally at the Sunrise Civic Center at 2 p.m. before heading to Wilton Manors for early voting at Hagen Park, where he will appear with Mayor Gary Resnick.

At the same time, Nelson and all the Democrats running for governor will attend the 2 p.m. Stronger Together Early Vote GOTV Rally at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater.

But it’s not just Democrats campaigning down south today. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will head to a North Miami-Dade Meet-and-Greet at 4:30 p.m. at Shuckers Waterfront Grille Rooftop in North Bay Village.

Meanwhile, the New Florida Vision PAC will work events for Gillum, including a Brunch and Vote event at Zest Miami from noon to 5 p.m. and a “Tamales and Gillum! Hollywood” event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This post will be updated as candidates and campaigns announce plans.

Adam Putnam banks on ‘Florida First’ in Governor’s race

Clad in jeans and a blue-checkered shirt with rolled-up sleeves, Adam Putnam easily blended into the rural North Florida residents attending the annual Wausau Possum Festival in early August.

“I’m a farmer, a business owner,” the boyish-looking, 44-year-old Republican candidate for Governor told the crowd in a brief speech. “The foundation of my campaign is that I know Florida best. This isn’t my first trip to Wausau just because I’m running for statewide office.”

Since launching his campaign in May 2017 on the steps of a century-old courthouse in Bartow, his Polk County hometown, Putnam has emphasized the “grassroots” nature of his campaign to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Putnam, who has served two terms as Florida’s agriculture commissioner, has campaigned relentlessly across the state, while putting a particular focus on smaller, rural communities and their political and business leaders. It has resulted in the endorsement of his campaign by 49 of the 66 elected sheriffs in Florida.

“Working families are my people. They are my base. They are our grassroots energy,” Putnam said in an interview with The News Service of Florida. “They are the reason why we are going to win.”

In a nationally televised debate in late June with Congressman Ron DeSantis, his GOP primary rival, Putnam emphasized his “Florida First” campaign as opposed to DeSantis, who has talked more about national issues and has played up an endorsement from President Donald Trump.

“I care more about this county than I do about Washington, D.C. And I think that’s what the next Governor needs to be focused on,” Putnam said referring to Washington County, which has a population of about 25,000 residents, including the 380 who live in Wausau.

Putnam accused DeSantis of having “a fly-in, fly-out strategy with a D.C. entourage.”

“It’s not real Florida. It’s not Florida focused,” Putnam said.

Yet in the final weeks of the Aug. 28 primary campaign, Putnam faces the challenge of winning votes in deeply conservative regions of the state, like Washington County, where Trump is wildly popular. The president carried nearly eight of every 10 votes in the county in the 2016 general election.

Polls have shown DeSantis building a lead as he touts the Trump connection.

In the final debate of the primary campaign last week at Jacksonville University, Putnam said while he agreed with the president’s overall agenda, “I wish he hadn’t put his thumb on the scale of Florida’s campaigns.”

Trump’s involvement, which was underscored by a July 31 political rally in Tampa where the president personally endorsed DeSantis, is the “only card” DeSantis has, Putnam said, while acknowledging “it’s a big one.”

“But it still means you’re not playing with a full deck,” Putnam told DeSantis.

Putnam was born in Bartow on July 31, 1974, into a family steeped in Florida’s agricultural tradition. A fifth-generation Floridian, Putnam’s grandfather, Dudley Adelbert Putnam, is credited with creating the family’s successful citrus and cattle business.

Putnam was raised by his parents, Dudley and Sally Putnam, in Bartow along with two brothers and a sister. He went on to the University of Florida where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1995. He was president of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and a member of Florida Blue Key, a campus organization that has claimed a number of future state leaders.

Putnam met his wife, Melissa, at UF and they later married and moved to Bartow, where they are raising three teenage daughters who are in high school and a son in middle school.

The Putnam family’s citrus and cattle business has provided a comfortable living for the candidate and his family, with Putnam’s latest state financial disclosure showing a net worth of a little more than $9 million.

Although his family was not particularly active in politics, Putnam’s interest was piqued in his final year in college when he served as an intern in the Washington, D.C., office of former U.S. Rep. Charles Canady, who is now chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.

Putnam ran in 1996 for a state House seat in Polk County, winning his election as a 22-year-old, which was then the youngest member ever elected to the state House. Rep. Amber Mariano, a Hudson Republican, has since claimed that distinction, winning her election as a 21-year-old in 2016.

Putnam served two terms in the Legislature, where he rose to the chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee.

When Canady prepared to leave Congress in 2000, Putnam ran for the seat. His victory, which made him the youngest serving member in the U.S. House, launched a 10-year career in Washington. Again demonstrating leadership ability, Putnam became chairman of the House Republican Conference, the third-ranking position among GOP members.

When the Cabinet seat for state agriculture commissioner opened in 2010, Putnam returned to Tallahassee, facing no primary opposition and easily beating a Democratic opponent in the general election. He cruised to re-election to his Cabinet seat in 2014.

Putnam’s experience as a state legislator, congressman and a Cabinet member gives him a wide range of experience.

But DeSantis has turned that against him, labeling him as a “career politician” who has spent his adulthood in a public office.

Susan MacManus, a longtime political-science professor at the University of South Florida, said experience may not be an asset in the eyes of many voters during these contentious political times.

In addition to Trump’s impact on elections, MacManus said “the other phenomenon we’re seeing in this election cycle is that in just about every race, where there is an incumbent or an incumbent-like candidate, is that longevity in office is turning out to be less of an asset than usual.”

Facing his first primary for a statewide office, Putnam has played up conservative policy positions, including promising to block any effort by local communities to provide “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants. He has also promised to crack down on undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, saying they are driving up the cost of the criminal justice system.

Putnam, like DeSantis, has promised to appoint conservative judges and has reiterated his opposition to abortion. Both candidates have vowed to support a “heartbeat bill,” which would prohibit abortions if fetal heartbeats can be detected.

Although a staunch advocate for gun rights, Putnam has drawn criticism for a campaign tweet that described him as “a proud NRA sellout.” The controversy was amplified when guns became a major issue following the mass shooting at a Broward County high school in February and after reports described the mishandling of concealed-weapons license applications in Putnam’s office. Putnam said the problems with the licensing process have been corrected.

Putnam’s supporters say his conservative credentials, his experience and his knowledge of the challenges facing Florida, as the nation’s third-largest state, would make him a successful Governor.

“Adam reflects the values and interests of Northwest Florida and the rest of the state of Florida, more so than anybody else. He has spent his whole life dedicated to improving the quality of life in Florida,” said state Sen. George Gainer, a Panama City Republican who joined Putnam at the Wausau Possum Festival.

“What happens in the federal government is important, but he has been here taking care of business at home,” Gainer said.

New Adam Putnam ad says we don’t need a new — ahem — ‘Apprentice’ as governor

A new statewide ad from Republic gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam says voters shouldn’t pick a leader the way a certain reality show chooses its winner.

“Florida’s not picking an apprentice. We’re electing a Governor,” Putnam says in the ad, which started airing today.

It’s an obvious ping against Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, who soared into the lead in the Republican primary after nabbing the formal endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Of course, Trump’s greatest burst into the cultural zeitgeist before his successful 2016 presidential campaign came on The Apprentice, an NBC reality show in which the real estate developer would choose a new company executive based on their performance in weekly tasks and on his own personal whims.

But Putnam works hard in the ad not to criticize the president, who enjoys high popularity among Republican voters right now. A Florida Atlantic University poll in July found that while Trump had just a 41-percent approval rating among all Floridians, he holds an 80-percent approval rating among Republicans.

“I support President Trump’s agenda,” Putnam says. “Tax cuts to create jobs and cracking down on illegal immigration.”

That said, backhanded swipe at DeSantis closely mirrors a more frontal assault by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King, that DeSantis is “fighting to be Donald Trump’s next apprentice.”

Putnam, once the front-runner in the gubernatorial race, has worked over the last month to refocus the contest on Florida issues and not the president’s endorsement.

“I’ve dedicated my life to making our state a better place,” says Putnam, now Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner.

“As your Governor, we’ll make Florida the launchpad for the American Dream. Creating new opportunities for the next generation, keeping our promises to veterans, and protecting all the things that make Florida, Florida.”

Days after a Fox News debate and the presidential endorsement, DeSantis surged ahead in polls. The Real Clear Politics polling composite now has the Ponte Vedre congressman up an average 11 percent over Putnam.

That said, a new Survey USA poll for Spectrum News found Putnam had closed the gap and was back in a dead heat with DeSantis.

Gubernatorial candidates blitz Florida. Where can you find them today?

With less than two weeks before a critical primary, candidates for governor travel Florida reaching out to as many voters as possible. Where might you bump into a gubernatorial hopeful?

Democratic candidate Philip Levine, former Miami Beach mayor, today will hit early voting stations campaigning. He starts at the Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City at 9 a.m., where he will appear alingside activist and 2 Live Crew founder “Uncle Luke” Campbell, then head to the Hollywood library at 10 a.m., the Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill Mall at 11 a.m., the Miramar library at noon, the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Terrace Building office at 2:30 p.m., and finally the Supervisor of Elections office at the County Building in St. Petersburg at 4 p.m.

Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, a Ponte Vedra Congressman, will travel the Panhandle today as part of a “Freedom Tour” alongside Freedom Caucus founder Rep. Jim Jordan and Pensacola Rep. Matt Gaetz. The team stops at The Fish House in Pensacola at 10 a.m., Hampton Inn and Suites in Navarre at 1 p.m., and the Cuvée Kitchen in Destin at 3 p.m.

Republican candidate Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture commissioner, meanwhile will be in Jacksonville, where his Florida First Bus Tour will swing by the Mambos Cuban Café around noon. He will campaign with Rep. John Rutherford, former Rep. Ander Crenshaw and Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman.

Democratic candidate Gwen Graham, a former Panhandle Congresswoman, will be in South Florida leading a Get Out The Vote tour with the Florida Education Association. Among those campaigning with her today will be FEA President Joanne McCall and her father, retired Sen. Bob Graham. She will be at the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections at 10 a.m., the Miami Lakes Community Center at 1 p.m. and the Miramar Library at 3 p.m.

Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, fresh off a rally with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be in St. Petersburg this afternoon with Gold Star father Khzir Khan. Team Gillum with host the national figure at the African American History Museum at a 2:30 p.m. event.

This story will be updated as campaigns release more information on public appearances.

Philip Levine launches new ad that looks beyond primary

Gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, bouyed to the top of the Democratic heap in the latest poll, is launching a new TV commercial that appears aimed at showdowns with Republicans and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, rather than his Aug. 28 primary opponents.

The new 30-second spot “The Challenge,” launched Friday, appears more focused on Aug. 29 and beyond, pairing DeSantis and President Donald Trump as status quo for problems ranging from the environmental threats of offshore drilling to the rise of hate groups.

“If Trump and DeSantis win, nothing will change,” Levine says in the ad. “If we do, we take back our state.”

Nonetheless, Levine’s Campaign Senior Adviser Christian Ulvert characterized the commercial as a primary election appeal to Democratic voters. The latest poll put Levine up slightly on former U.S Rep. Gwen Graham, and up considerably on the others, with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum running third, businessman Jeff Greene fourth, and businessman Chris King fifth.

“2018 is a fight for the future of our state and as Florida Democrats come together to rise to the challenge, we need a candidate who has what it takes to win when so much is on the line,” Ulvert stated in a news release.

DeSantis is paired with Trump even though he, too, must win a primary, against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, long the Republican frontrunner until Trump endorsed DeSantis. DeSantis has been leading almost all recent polls.

The ad does go through the roll of many of the basic Democratic issues in this primary season: “We cannot have drilling,” Levine insists. “Our schools need help. And so do our teachers,” he follows up. “If we don’t expand Medicaid, women and children will suffer,” he continues. “Florida needs stronger gun laws, and we have to stop the hatred that’s tearing us apart.

Then the montage of frightening images of such things as oil spills and hate groups gives way to video of DeSantis and Trump.

Adam Putnam launches new bus tour with faith in grassroots

An upbeat Adam Putnam started his latest tour of restaurants and backyard barbecues expressing confidence in Winter Park Friday that his 16 months of cultivating grassroots yet will pay off in the Aug. 28 Republican gubernorial primary against U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“I’m pretty excited about a poll that came out right here in Orlando, a local TV station that essentially shows it a dead heat,” Putnam declared, referring to a poll done by Spectrum News 13 that shows. “The only poll that matters comes on election day, and as you can see from the grassroots energy all over the state, I feel very good.”

That poll had DeSantis up 40 to 38, with 16 percent still undecided. The gap was within the 5 point margin of error.

Putnam held one of his “Up & Adam” breakfast talks before a packed and enthusiastic house at the 4Rivers restaurant in Winter Park Friday morning. The event was not unlike countless he’s arranged and spoken at in Orlando and cities and small towns throughout Florida since launching his campaign in the spring of 2017. Yet this summer he watched DeSantis, who until June had campaigned largley through FOX News appearances, zoom past him in polls and start hosting large, raucious rallies after getting the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, has tried hard to embrace Trump and work him into much of his own campaigning, but

For the past six weeks Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, has been playing catch-up against Trump’s candidate, DeSantis. Putnam has been trying hard to embrace Trump and work him into much of his own campaigning, while still characterizing the race as a “Washington-centric candidate” versus a “Florida-First candidate.”

That Florida First message, his campaign theme, mixed with Trump references throughout his 4Rivers stop. And he’s turning back to his grassroots appeal in the closing days, while staying on his basic points of pushing technical education, low taxes for small business growth, and intimate knoweldge of the state’s economy and local nuances.

“So we’re going to be bouncing all around Florida, up and down the I-4 corridor, up and down I-75 and I-95 and throughout the Panhandle. We’ll be making multiple stops a day, whether it’s at barbecue restaurants, coffee shops, businesses or people’s back yards,” he said.

“If you want to be governor of the third-largest state, if you want to manage a trillion-dollar economy, you better be willing to roll up your sleeves and be amongst the people,” he said. “Understand their concerns, listen to their challenges, and offer your own vision on how we’re going to make Florida a stronger, better place.”

Jacksonville Bold for 8.17.18 — Sizzle, and steak

Wishful thinking predicates much of election season. Aspirational ads for Democrats; appeals targeting nonexistent issues (hello, “sanctuary cities”) for Republicans.

Ultimately, these moves — whether pulled by a winning or losing campaign — are strategic. How a Republican is to eliminate sanctuary cities or how a Democrat is by force of will to create Medicare for All or legalize cannabis is left to the voters’ imaginations.

From the embryonic, conceptual phases of campaigns, where voters can convince themselves that radical shifts can happen, thinking evolves eventually. Pretenders fall off. People start thinking strategically about their vote. And, in the cases of early front-runners, we often see how shallow that support is once the game changes.

As you will see below, there’s not a lot of drama in certain races. We have a good sense of who will win area Congressional primaries. Less of a good sense as to who will win a couple of state House races.

As is the case every year, none of this is too surprising. Polls are transparent. Campaign finance is easy enough to figure out. And most reading this can read candidates and their chances pretty well also.

Levine in Jax

Jacksonville was the fourth and final stop on Philip Levine‘s barnstorming tour of local early voting locations Monday.

Philip Levine says he’s “everywhere” right now, and will be back before the primary vote.

This tour happens as tensions have boiled over between Levine and another Democratic contender, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

As the two work to drive up each other’s negatives, polls show that U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham holds an advantage.

An internal poll released last week by Levine has him behind by four points. A Graham poll shows her up on Levine by 16 points. Greene was behind the top two in both cases.

Levine was not especially dismayed by the turn the campaign has taken.

“The bottom line is this,” Levine said. “I think the people deserve to know what someone’s track record is” vis a vis Trump.

Levine estimated having been “on television … a hundred, two hundred times … during the 2016 election, warning America that this guy would be a terrible president.”

“I think that when someone pretends [he’s] fighting them while being at his country club by the ocean — we call it Kremlin-by-the-Sea — and passing the Grey Poupon across the table and thinks that’s fighting Donald Trump,” Levine added, “the people have a right to know.”

“You don’t want Donald Trump’s friend — you want who Donald Trump fears,” Levine said. “The people of Florida should understand who is who, and that’s why we’re doing it.”

Curry endorses DeSantis

According to WJCT, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis align on prominent issues — being tough on crime and investing in youth — and they both come from similar working-class backgrounds and want others to have the same opportunities.

‘Brothers of a different mother’: Lenny Curry calls Ron DeSantis ‘ the right guy right now.’

“Ron’s a good conservative,” Curry told reporters. “I’ve been about disrupting the status quo locally, and I think that that’s what’s got to happen everywhere, and Ron’s going to disrupt the status quo as the governor of the state of Florida and I’m supporting him, voting for him and encouraging folks to get out and vote in the primary.”

DeSantis called Curry “innovative.”

“What he’s done here is showing that you got to be bold, you just got to keep pushing,” he said. “And that’s obviously what I would want to do as governor.”

Tale of two districts

For nearly three decades, two congressional districts split the city of Jacksonville.

One of them, what is now Florida’s 4th Congressional District, was represented for years by reliable — and by today’s standard, moderate — Republicans Tillie Fowler and Ander Crenshaw.

Ander Crenshaw and Corrine Brown represented Jacksonville together for 16 years.

The other district, currently the 5th Congressional District, was Democrat Corrine Brown‘s sinecure. The maps on that district changed periodically, seemingly always under legal challenge, a process that ended in 2016 with Brown’s district being moved from its south/southwest jog toward the Orlando area to a straight east-west configuration.

Jacksonville, as of yet, doesn’t have the population to house two districts within Duval County — and given the cartographical challenges of minority access districts, that may not be the case after the next apportionment either.

However, a look at book closing data for CD 4 and CD 5 reveals two districts that ultimately will be decided in primary elections, proving that some things really don’t change in the 904.

Read more here.

Brown going down

If the election in Florida’s 5th Congressional District were today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson would cruise to victory, according to a St. Pete Polls survey of the race released Monday.

Nancy Pelosi was one of just many big-name endorsers for Al Lawson this cycle.

A survey of 445 likely Democratic primary voters shows Lawson with 50 percent of the vote, with opponent Alvin Brown at 28 percent. The balance of voters are undecided. The margin of error is 4.6 percent.

Lawson has strong leads of 15 percent and up among all surveyed demographics with appreciable data: whites and blacks, men and women, and every age cohort.

Among those who already voted, Lawson is up 52-42; among those yet to vote, Lawson’s lead balloons to 49-26.

Despite the negative messaging in this race in recent weeks against Lawson, the incumbent has not seen his favorable ratings damaged. Fifty-four percent of Democrats in the district regard him favorably, giving him a +36 rating (Brown, with 36 percent of Democrats regarding him favorably, is at +16).

The winner of this race will face Republican Virginia Fuller, a first-time candidate without an appreciable campaign infrastructure.

Notable: the Florida Times-Union also endorsed Lawson this week, another sign this is over.

Last dance for Waltz foes

A new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls shows Republican Michael Waltz pulling ahead of primary opponents John Ward and Fred Costello in the race to succeed DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Mike Waltz is seen here on Fox News demonstrating a ‘go bag,’ suitable for escaping terrorist attacks.

The new poll commissioned for Florida Politics asked likely primary voters who they would support if the election were today. Waltz, a St. Augustine Army veteran, would take 40 percent of the vote, results show. Ward, a Palm Coast Navy veteran, would win 21 percent, while former Ormond Beach state Rep. Costello would get 16 percent. Another 23 percent of those polled remain undecided.

The poll, taken Aug. 10, shows an even more pronounced lead for Waltz among voters who already cast their ballot in the race. Waltz won support from 41 percent of those polled. Interestingly, Costello outperformed Ward among those eager voters, winning 22 percent to Ward’s 21 percent.

More than 23 percent of those surveyed already voted in the Republican primary.

The poll shows significant movement from a survey by St. Pete Polls conducted July 18. Then, the three Republicans appeared to be in a dead heat, with Costello just over 21 percent, Ward just under 21 percent and Waltz at 20.

HD 14, 15 still in doubt

Both the Democratic primary in House District 14 and the Republican race in HD 15 offer a soupçon of drama as early voting continues.

In HD 14’s Democratic two-way, challenger Paula Wright finally has cash on hand lead over incumbent Kim Daniels.

Paula Wright’s game-ready, but her opponent specializes in brushback pitches.

Wright has continued to raise money. Between July 28 and Aug. 3, the last dates for which campaign finance numbers are available, Wright raised $7,675, with cash from Realtors, AFSCME, and a sheet metal local union contributing.

Wright has just over $14,000 on hand (more than Daniels), and according to her campaign finance report, will spend a lot of that money on canvassers (the majority of the nearly $2,800 spent between July 27 and Aug. 3 went for such purposes).

Wright has some advantages. A current chair of the Duval County School Board, she is no political neophyte. And she’s backed by Democratic elected officials, including Sen. Audrey Gibson, state Rep. Tracie Davis, and Councilman Garrett Dennis.

Daniels, who has had her share of scandals and apostasies from Democratic orthodoxy, is seen as beatable by those close to Wright.

In HD 15, meanwhile, the Republican side of the ledger is where the action is, with lobbyist Wyman Duggan trying to close the deal against primary opponents Joseph Hogan and Mark Zeigler.

Duggan has spent more than $85,000 on television in July. He continues to raise money ($10,000 between July 27 and Aug. 3, including donations from pharmaceutical and Realtor trade group political committees) and has roughly $75,000 between hard money and committee money as he heads into the stretch run.

It gives him more cash on hand than Zeigler (~$28K) and Hogan (~$28K) combined.

Public polling of this race has yet to surface. However, a recent mailer from Duggan’s political committee slammed Hogan for his support for former Jacksonville Mayor Brown in the 2015 race against current Republican incumbent Curry.

Hogan “stands with anti-Trump progressives,” the mailer charges, as Hogan said Jacksonville was “better off” with Brown.

The Duggan bet seems to be that district voters need reminding of that particular deviation from doctrine.

October surprise

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up a dispute about whether Gov. Rick Scott has the authority to appoint a Northeast Florida circuit judge.

David Trotti’s position is that he should ‘win’ the seat unopposed.

Justices issued an order Thursday accepting the case and scheduled arguments Oct. 2. But the order showed a divided court, with Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Jorge Labarga backing the decision to take up the case and Chief Justice Charles Canady and justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson opposed.

The case stems from the upcoming retirement of Judge Robert Foster in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties. Foster was expected to leave office Jan. 7, 2019, which would be the end of his term, because of mandatory retirement age.

But on April 2, Foster sent a letter to Scott making the retirement effective Dec. 31, four business days ahead of schedule.

The Scott administration argues — and the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed — that the governor’s acceptance of a judicial resignation before the start of an election-qualifying period creates a vacancy that should be filled by appointment, rather than election.

If Foster retired Jan. 7, the post would be filled by election. Jacksonville lawyer David Trotti filed the legal challenge arguing that the opening should be filled in this year’s elections. Trotti tried this spring to qualify to run for the judicial spot but was denied. The Supreme Court arguments will come about a month before the Nov. 6 general election but after ballots are printed.

Hogan on blast

Early voting is allowed on college campuses — but Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan isn’t having it at the University of North Florida.

(Image via Jax Daily Record)

Via Folio Weekly, Megan Newsome — a UNF student who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit intended to secure that access for college students — is not happy.

“Students have been fighting for this change for years, and now that the option is finally on the table, officials in Alachua and Hillsborough counties have already taken steps to make early voting on UF and USF campuses a reality. Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections has remained open to the possibility, too. But Hogan will not even “entertain the option” because it would be “just too darn difficult,” Newsome writes.

“The closest early voting location to UNF’s campus is over 3 miles away,” Newsome notes.

No, thank you

DeSantis may want Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams to be his Lieutenant Governor.

But it’s not happening, Williams told WJXT this week.

Mike Williams slams the door on Lieutenant Governor talk.

Williams will not accept the offer, “slamming the door” on the bid.

“As long as the people of Jacksonville want me to serve them, I will honor that trust,” Williams said.

Williams, a candidate for re-election in 2019, faces nominal competition.

Between his campaign and committee accounts, Williams raised just $1,450 in July. He is left with roughly $440,000 on hand.

Williams is not in any appreciable danger at the ballot box. His sole opponent, Democrat Tony Cummings, has $700 on hand.

Mayfield seeks audit of JEA nuclear costs

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield is calling the Florida Legislature’s auditing and accountability office to look into JEA involvement an expensive nuclear power project — blasting it as an “alarming example” of “potential mismanagement” at the city-owned utility.

Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union reports that JEA’s involvement in the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project served as a backdrop for a contentious debate at City Hall over the privatization of JEA.

Debbie Mayfield is taking a hard look at JEA nuclear costs.

JEA’s share of Vogtle — as much as $4 billion over 20 years — is raising alarm bells with both city officials and credit-rating analysts.

While JEA is telling Plant Vogtle co-owners to cancel the project, Monroe noted that utility officials are “actively searching for ways to get out of the contract it has with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, one of the co-owners.”

Mayfield represents Senate District 17, which covers Brevard and Indian River counties — about 150 miles south of Jacksonville. The Mayfield Republican is requesting the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability Office to complete a full examination of JEA’s contract with MEAG. She also wants a report submitted to the House and Senate leadership by Feb. 1.

“Citizens from the community have expressed concern over recent events and published reports that suggest serious issues surrounding the spending and operation decisions of the JEA,” Mayfield wrote to auditors this week.

JEA interim CEO Aaron Zahn told reporters he welcomed the review but disagreed that the decision to invest in Vogtle was evidence of mismanagement.

“JEA has just been taken for a ride,” Zahn said.

Khan ready to build

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record, is prepared to get moving on big projects.

The paper writes: “The plan is to commence construction on a parking structure, entertainment complex, hotel, office tower and residential building at the same time so that most of the construction occurs during the NFL offseason.”

“Based on what we talked about today, I’d say any deal would need to be in place by the end of the year to hit that mark,” said Jags President Mark Lamping.

Ready to build: Shad Khan’s vision includes a hotel on the former Shipyards property.

“Shad is anxious to get moving on these projects because he’s a big believer in momentum,” Lamping said. “It’s one of the hardest things to get, it’s one of the easiest things to lose.”

Lamping added that movement on development at the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park wouldn’t happen until the Hart Bridge offramps go down.

Should any city incentives be required, Khan is well-positioned as both Curry’s most prominent supporter and a donor in most Council races already.

Social Grounds gets props

At this week’s Cabinet meeting, Gov. Rick Scott recognized Jacksonville’s veteran-owned Social Grounds Coffee Company with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award.

Scott said, “I’m proud to recognize Social Grounds Coffee Company with the Business Ambassador Award today. Florida is the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, and it’s great to see veteran-owned companies succeed in Florida.”

Gov. Rick Scott recognizes Jacksonville’s veteran-owned Social Grounds Coffee Company with Business Ambassador Award.

Social Grounds Owner and Marine Corps veteran Jason Kelloway said, “I am truly honored to receive the Business Ambassador Award from Governor Scott on behalf of the entire team at Social Grounds. We love our city and will continue to use our coffee to help change lives and make a difference in our community.”

In July, the release from Scott’s office notes, the Governor visited Kuwait and took coffee from Social Grounds to serve to the troops.

Ramsey, Fowler stay home as Jags visit Minnesota

The Jaguars are in Minnesota practicing with the Vikings before getting together in the second preseason game on Saturday. They are there minus two players.

Both cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. are back in Jacksonville serving a one-week suspension. Fowler’s banishment came after two altercations with teammates, the most heated between the former Florida Gator and fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

Ramsey, the All-Pro from Florida State, stuck up for his one-time rival by going after a reporter who was recording Fowler’s altercation with Ngakoue. After Philip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union reported on the incident, Ramsey tweeted, among other things “if y’all want war, we got sum for y’all.”

Jalen Ramsey staying home as Jaguars visit Minnesota.

With team management, let alone the media relations department, working to generate positive coverage of a young, up-and-coming team, good relations with the local media is a priority. Ramsey’s actions, as well as Fowler’s, were determined to be “a violation of team rules,” prompting the suspensions.

Ramsey said his coaches had urged him to speak his mind. He recalled a recent meeting where coaches said “Yo, Jalen, we need you to say this,” and “come Thursday, we need you to say this on the media.”

This is probably true, but it is also likely the coaches never urged him to attack the media on Twitter. On the other hand, coaches can smile broadly when Ramsey’s incessant trash talking on the field leads opponents to take silly penalties.

The altercation last year with Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, which led to Green body slamming Ramsey on the field, is a prime example.

When Ramsey and Fowler return to practice Monday, hopefully, the messages will have been delivered.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons